Runing Wire to under bench?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by jpohl, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. jpohl

    jpohl New Member

    I am working on finalizing my N Scale layout on the bench right now. As I am doing this I am starting to wonder how I am going to get the wires to under the bench.

    All Along, I just assumed I would use a small drill bit and drill a hole for feeders to the track, turnouts, etc. The problem I am starting to think of is the fact that the drill bits are not long enough.

    My table top consists of 1/4 plywood with 2 inches of foam on top of that. In some cases with the upper level track, there will be an additional two inches of foam. The smaller drill bits are a little too short to drill that depth. The larger bits are long enough, but will leave huge holes?

    How do some of you handle getting the power from under the bench to the track, turnouts, signals, lights, etc on the layout?


  2. pttom

    pttom Member

    Jeff, The hardwares carry a bit that is about 12" long. They come in 1/8" up. That what I use.:)
  3. jpohl

    jpohl New Member


    Thanks for the info. I was in Home Depot and running through there real quick. I glanced by bits looking for what you described. I did not see them, but then again, I did not look too hard at the time.

    I will go back and look more closely. That is exactly what I need!


  4. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Home Depot does indeed have long drill bits. You can find them in the tool dept right where all the other drill bits are. They run about $5 each dependent on the size bit.

    They make drill bits even longer, up to 36", but I doubt that you'll need something that long. Alarm installers use them and they have a hole in the tip that allows them to hook the wires to the end and fish them back through, like when they go from a door jam up into the attic. You won't find those at Home Depot though.

  5. boppa

    boppa Member

    also a trick i use for tv ant cable installations- weld a steel rod slightly smaller than your drill size and as long as you need to the end of the drill(the blunt end lol)
    bingo one long drill!
    (the longest i have made in this way was 4m long- for a wall cavity)
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Here's a suggestion for a cheap solution:

    Drill through the wood with the regular bit. Then poke a hole the rest of the way using a coat hanger wire heated with a propane torch. Will make a nice round hole suitable for running wires.

  7. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    Once you have a hole in the wood you can chuck a piece of stiff wire, like from a coathanger, in the drill and use that to drill thru the foam. Cut the end with side-cutters so there's a sharp tip.
  8. billk

    billk Active Member

    Using a coat hanger (hot or in a drill) to go through the foam is fine if you're going from the bottom up, i.e. drilling through the wood first. But if you going from the top down, you will have problem getting the hole in the wood and in the foam to line up.

    I say just get a longer drill!
  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    ya, if he drills from the bottom, he's gunna miss the target, most likely. I don't have wood underneath my foam, so I just use a big nail, jab a hole in it (which closes back up), force the wire through, solder it and ballast over.
  10. jpohl

    jpohl New Member

    Thanks to everyone for their replies. I was in Lowes today and ran over to the tools section. I did find a 1 foot 1/8 bit over there. That will do the trick just right.


  11. billk

    billk Active Member

    I've always had problems running feeder wires down through foam/plywood - they seem to always get hung up at the plywood. Since the feeders are usually already soldered to the rails, running them up from the bottom isn't an alternative. It can get very frustrating!.

    What I've come up with to get around this is a piece of heavy solid insulated wire, big enough around so that it just fits into the hole, and 2 in or so longer than the overall depth of the foam+plywood. I strip a little of the insulation off of one end, and then pull the wire through the insulation so there's about a half-inch of "hollow" insulation at one end.

    I then insert this "tool" into the hole, with the hollow end on the foam side, so that there is some of it sticking out on both sides. Since it's relatively stiff, being solid copper, it usually goes through without a lot of poking and prodding. Then I insert the feeder wire into the hollow end, and push the whole thing through.

    The biggest problem is that the "tool" looks too much like a piece of scrap wiring and I keep on throwing it away. :D
  12. pttom

    pttom Member

    I have found it easy to feed wire through the foam and plywood. Just take a small drinking straw the thickness of your foam and insert it into the predrilled hole. Feeds right through with no hangups.
  13. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I had a freind who used a 22 pistol once, well, OK, it was me. Just be sure to keep your toes out of the way. Them long bits are lots cheaper than shoes, emergency rooms, and fixing floors. You know you can't buy just one shoe. I had to buy a pair even though only one was ruined. DASH
  14. Jim Cullen

    Jim Cullen Member

    If you had a lot of wires to run, you could save yourself some time by using a shotgun...
  15. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Shoegoo :D :D :D
  16. Bill Pontin

    Bill Pontin Member

    I use the long 1/8" drill and have no problem drilling the holes down through the ballasted roadbed and 2" thick foam for my new NTrak module. My problem was locating but some 22 gauge solid core wire for my wire drops. All the orange box stores (Home Depot) here carry 18 gauge and telephone 26 gauge. Radio Shacks have gone out of the wire selling end. 18 gauge is almost as big as the track and 26 gauge is too fine. I used to install alarm systems and 22 gauge is standard so I went into an alarm store and asked about purchasing a small quantity of any 22 gauge. Look of puzzlement until I explained I was wiring a model train layout. He remarked that you model train people are all crazy and asked just how much I actually needed. Said about 20 feet of any 22 gauge, 22/2 or 22/4 as long as it was solid core. He cut off about thirty feet of 22/4 from a box. As he handed it to me I asked how much I owed him, "nothing enjoy". Said he had a friend that had a basement full of Lionel trains and that he was always hitting him up for the same gauge wire. Oh wait he said, maybe you could also use this. He pulled up this coil remnant of 22/12 and said this should keep you busy for a while. There has to be about forty foot of the 22/12. (22/12 = twelve multi colored conductors of 22 gauge wire) Could not thank him enough, unfortunately I will probably loose most of my windfall to my fellow club members. Guess it just pays to ask.
  17. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    The Long Bits are called aircraft Bits.
    Now you can ask for them by name :D

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